From January next year, anyone supplying or installing high-end residential or light commercial air conditioning products must be ready for new seasonal efficiency legislation. The EcoDesign of Energy Using Products is a legal framework stipulating minimum energy efficiency ratings must appear on all products up to 12kW from January 2013. Any products that don’t meet minimum energy efficiency standards according to the new Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings (SEER) will be removed from the market: you simply won’t be able to buy or sell them any longer. From January 2013, any products with an energy efficiency of less than the minimum standard will be barred from the market, from January 2014.

Changes to EPC Regulations from 6 April 2012

New Regulations were introduced on 6 April 2012 relating to Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s), which Regulations will be enforceable within England and Wales. These certificates have been in place since 2007 and provide an assessment of a building’s energy efficiency on an A-G scale and a set of recommendations that can improve the building’s energy efficiency. The Department for Communities and Local Government has revised the documents to be more user-friendly so that hopefully it will be more likely they will be taken into account on the sale or letting of a commercial or residential property.

The new Regulations will require that an EPC must be commissioned before any property is marketed. Prior to 6 April 2012, an EPC is only required for the sale of residential dwellings. After 6 April 2012, an EPC will also be required for the sale or letting of commercial premises. The new Regulations will require that “reasonable efforts” are made to obtain an EPC within seven calendar days from commencement of marketing of the property and after a further 21 days following this initial 7 day period the EPC must have been obtained. Trading Standards Officers may choose to serve a penalty notice if an EPC has not been obtained within that time (i.e. 28 days after commencement of marketing).

The potential penalty for not supplying the EPC for domestic properties has not changed; it remains at £200. For non-domestic properties, the potential penalty could be equivalent to 12.5% of the ratable value of the property, with a minimum of £500 and a maximum of £5,000. The new regulations will not apply to commercial properties where marketing commenced prior to 6 April 2012 provided that the premises have been “continuously” marketed throughout the period before and after the commencement of the new Regulations and there has been no break in the marketing.

Below are the key points in the new legislation:

An EPC must be commissioned before marketing a property for rent
Unless you already have an EPC available you must commission an EPC from an EPC provider before you first put the property on the market for rent. An EPC should be made available within seven days of a property first coming on to the market. You must make reasonable efforts to make sure that an EPC for the property is available within this seven day period. If, despite using all reasonable efforts you cannot secure that an EPC is available at the end of this seven day period you must make sure that the EPC is obtained before the end of a further period of 21 days. Thus, there is an absolute duty to make sure that it is available within 28 days of the property first being marketed.

An EPC must be available to any prospective tenant as early as possible.
In particular it must be made available when a prospective tenant requests information or asks to view the property. A copy must be handed over to the tenant before signing the tenancy agreement. These rules have always been in place but many of mistakenly thought different. The rules have therefore been amended to make it clear what must be done.

Agents must be satisfied that the landlord has commissioned an EPC or has one available before marketing the property on their behalf.
It becomes the responsibility of a letting agent to ensure that this has been done.

The front page of the EPC must be attached to any written particulars

The first page of the EPC must be made available with any written particulars

In relation to a building to be rented out, the duties apply to any written description of the property which includes at least two of the following:

• a photograph of the building or any room in the building
• a floor plan of the building
• the size of the rooms in the building
• the measured area of the building, or
• the proposed rent.

The wording of the legislation indicates that this does not apply to written advertisements such as those in newspapers magazines or to window displays.

When given in hard copy form this only applies when given to a specific individual who is interested in the property. If advertising online alongside the written particulars a copy of the EPC must be provided. This applies if what you display on line amounts to written particulars (see above for the definition). Therefore, if, for example, you display a photograph and give the rent on line the first page of the EPC must also be made available. You must actually have an EPC before displaying written particulars on line. The operator of the EPC Register has provided a technical solution which enables letting agents to retrieve EPCs from the register and attach them on line. This is not available to individual landlords; only agents.

Note: You can reduce the EPC in size so long as it is legible when attaching it to written particulars or displaying it on line. It can also be in black and white or colour. Only the first page need be provided; not the rest of the Certificate.

Evidence of commissioning an EPC must be available on request to Trading Standards Officers (TSOs)
TSOs have the power to investigate, require the production of EPCs and serve penalty notices. The penalty is £200 for residential buildings. This now extends to checking that an EPC has been commissioned.

The first page of the EPC has been re-designed.
This will be issued from April 1. Unlike the old EPC, the new one contains the financial savings that would be made if the suggested energy improvements are carried out.